The Savage Mountain

By Wolfgang Rattay

I am addicted to mountains. Whenever possible I spend every free minute climbing or hiking. It’s the same with my son who works in an outdoor shop.

I travelled with my 31-year-old son Jan to northern Pakistan to see the world’s second highest mountain, the K2 in the Karakoram mountain range. We were planning to go to the base camp of K2 and nearby Broad Peak at about 5,200m.

Once we arrived at Islamabad airport we flew on a small turbo-prop airplane to Skardu (about 3,000 m altitude), the starting point for our trek to Concordia.

Among mountain enthusiasts, the Concordia – the confluence of the Baltoro and Godwin-Austin glaciers at some 4700m altitude – is known as the world’s number one place to be.

We arranged the trip with Aziz Ur-Rahman, a lovely 40-year-old Pakistani who lives with his German wife and their two young boys in Augsburg, southern Germany. Aziz used to work as a mountain guide in Karakoram, before increasing violence in the area, following the September 11, 2001 attacks, led to the almost total collapse of the tourist industry in Pakistan.

In Skardu we met Aziz’ 38-year-old brother Mujeeb and two of his uncles. Altaf Hussein, a whimsical looking 64-year-old mountain guide has worked on his farm since 2007 because there are so few trekkers. Aziz’ other uncle, Shukrullah Baig, a 52-year-old former cook at Pakistan’s most famous five-star hotel chain works as a brick layer due to the lack of clients. For Altaf and Shukrullah this was to be their final K2 tour.

Read complete at Reuters Blog

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